About the song

John Denver’s Foxfire Suite. Now that’s a piece that evokes a tapestry of imagery and emotion. Denver, a true champion of the American soundscape, wove tales of nature, resilience, and the enduring spirit in his music. Foxfire Suite is no exception, taking us on a captivating journey through the heart of the Carolinas.

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Released in 1991 on his album Different Directions, the suite isn’t your typical single song. It’s a collection of interconnected movements, a miniature musical odyssey that unfolds like a story. Denver himself described it as “a tone poem about the history of the Appalachian people.”

The title itself holds a fascinating piece of history. Foxfire refers to a bioluminescent fungus that emits a soft, ethereal glow. Often found in damp, wooded areas, it was a natural source of light for settlers in the Appalachian Mountains. The image of this gentle illumination, a beacon in the wilderness, perfectly encapsulates the spirit of the suite.

As the opening notes of Foxfire Suite wash over you, a sense of anticipation builds. The gentle strumming of the guitar and the melancholic melody on the flute paint a picture of a land both beautiful and untamed. Denver’s warm baritone then takes center stage, singing of the Carolinas, a place steeped in history and natural wonders.

The suite progresses through distinct movements, each adding a brushstroke to the overall picture. We hear tales of the early settlers who braved a long and arduous journey to reach this new land, their courage fueled by a yearning for a better life. The music swells with a sense of determination as Denver sings of “a hundred years ago” and “far across the water.”

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Foxfire Suite doesn’t shy away from the challenges these pioneers faced. The raw power of nature is depicted with crashing cymbals and dramatic shifts in tempo, reflecting the harsh realities of carving a life out of the wilderness. Yet, there’s an underlying current of hope that permeates the music. The resilience of the human spirit shines through, a testament to the enduring strength of those who built a home in this rugged landscape.

As the suite progresses, we get glimpses into the lives of these Appalachian people. We hear the sounds of a fiddle, a staple of mountain music, and the gentle swaying rhythm that evokes images of community gatherings and shared stories. The music becomes lighter, reflecting the simple joys and traditions that sustained these communities.

The final movement brings a sense of closure and reflection. The music softens, leaving us with a lingering sense of awe for the land and its people. The Foxfire Suite isn’t just a song; it’s a historical narrative, a celebration of human spirit, and a love letter to the enduring beauty of the Carolinas.

Video

Lyrics

Spring is alive in Carolina, deep in the forest where the foxfire glows.
High on a mountain, down in a holler, thunder and lightning, so it goes.
Over a hundred years ago we came to Carolina, far across the water it’s a long hard road.

With little more than courage we came seeking independence,
a little less than nothing is a heavy load.
From the heather to the highlands we have found the Smokey Mountains,
hard work and simple ways and life is good, life is good.
Spring is alive in Carolina, deep in the forest where the foxfire glows.
High on a mountain, down in a holler, thunder and lightning, so it goes.

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You are every morning sunrise, you are every rain.
You are every peal of laughter, you are every cry of pain.
You are all the summer flowers, you are all the falling leaves.

You are everyone rejoicing you are everyone who grieves.
You are all my unknown secrets, you are all my hidden fears.
You are known in lover’s kisses, you are seen in childhood tears.

You are where the stars are shining, you are where the rainbow ends.
You are why the war is over, you are how the peace begins.

Whisper the wind over the water. Whisper the wind all through the night.
Whisper the wind along the canyon. Whisper the wind into the light.
Whisper the wind, brothers and sisters. Whisper the wind all the same.
Whisper the wind, love one another. Whisper the wind, your precious name.

Spring is alive in Carolina, deep in the forest where the foxfire glows.
High on a mountain, down in a holler, thunder and lightning, so it goes.
Spring is alive in Carolina, deep in the forest where the foxfire glows.
High on a mountain, down in a holler, thunder and lightning, so it goes so it goes.